Monday, July 27, 2009

Movie Journal: Kung Fu Panda

To tell the truth, I initially had every suspicion that this film was all anime spoofs and fart jokes. Turns out, not only is there not a single fart joke, but anime spoofs are kept at a chill minimum. It also turns out that the film's goofy slapstick and quirky humor have somehow managed to compliment the dark and epic themes of the backstory. Who knew?

I didn't, so that was a pleasant surprise. Featuring a great action-oriented plot that stays fresh from beginning to end, Kung Fu Panda is one of the first recent CG animated films I've seen in a while that has truly impressed me.

8 out 10

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review

Right from the opening shot, I knew I was going to love this movie. It had this strange sense of genuine visual and emotional focus that all past films in the series have essentially lacked. Plus, it just knew how to do something every past installment lacked the guts for: the altering of the book's original storyline, if ever so slight.

Some may be thinking, "Isn't it bad enough that they can only adapt so much of the essential pieces of storyline in the book, but now they are altering some of the story's events completely?" But I wouldn't say that at all. While it's true that you are not going to find nearly the amount of material the book has in the film, it's really impressive how they've been able to fit all the paramount bits of storyline together as a cohesive whole within the two hours or so that the film runs. In addition, by altering some of the events, or rather the context in which they happen, certain aspects of the story have become much more cool and epic in feel. This is the very first Harry Potter film for which I can honestly say that I did, in many ways, greatly prefer it to the book.

Yes, you heard me right. There are some ways in which Harry Potter 6 is, in fact, better than the book. Even definitive.

Now, I know that the creators have taken a great risk, and that there are just as many praising this movie as accusing it of being unfaithful trash. I, for one, shall stand up for the fact that this film is, in fact, the greatest Harry Potter film yet.

9 out 10

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Movie Journal: The Rock

The Rock is a film that has managed to surprise me on more than a few levels. The plot is engaging, the characters fascinating, and the action truly intense. For better or for worse.

My quarrel with the action in the film hasn't so much to do with it's intensity so much as there being just so darn much of it. For a greater part of the film I underwent an experience rather like that of having a variety of good yet filling treats being shoved into my mouth, often faster than I could properly chew.

Another issue the film seemed to have is that of the musical score, which happens to be, for the most part, very obnoxious. Maybe one of the reasons it was so much so was because of the fact that it never failed to adjoin the action sequences, of which there were undeniably many. In other words, the music rather got old, rather fast.

On the flip side, it is overall, a very intelligent story that sets out to bring to the viewers mind some very important issues that the leaders of every nation must at some point face. The Rock isn't so much a bad movie as an imperfect one.

7 out of 10

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Alice In Wonderland Trailer

Well, this is just cool. Ladies and gentleman, Burton is back.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New G.I. Joe Clip

I remain interested in this movie, even though I know it will very likely fall very short of people's expectations.

Movie Journal: Contact

There's really not much more to say than that this film is utter, undeniable genius. Starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey, Contact tells the story of a woman who has been searching for signs of extraterrestrial life for years, in the hopes of learning more about the true meaning behind life and her purpose in this universe.

Though there are aspects of the film's concepts that I don't entirely approve of, it's one of the most inspiring stories I have ever seen all the same. See it at any cost, because movies only get so much more powerful than this.

9 out of 10

Movie Journal: Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express isn't a bad movie, per se. It's just that it's not a particularly fulfilling one. While many of the film's scenes are sheer genius, others become drawn-out and episodic in a not-so-good way. And I guess that that's to be expected when it comes to a story about two stoned idiots trying very hard not to get killed, but there are times when the storylines' excessive eccentricities actually work against the story itself, rather than for it. Although the first act brings some interesting themes and concepts to the viewers' mind, the plot then sort of degenerates into a crazy shoot'em'up. I mean, I'd seen the trailer and I'd known it was going to be a shoot'em'up, but the first act of the story also led me to believe that, just maybe, it would be a little more than that, too. Forget that.

For those not quite following; the film of which I speak centers around a man named Dale Denton who ends up...well, I won't quite finish that sentence because I'm far too prone to giving away spoilers. Let's just say that both him and his friendly drug dealer end up on the run from both the criminal underworld and the local police.

Insanity ensues, and it's not necessarily a bad kind of insanity either. It's just that it's the kind of insanity that doesn't really get anywhere. Think Monty Python, but without the irony and wit. You could say it all comes down to a lack of polish, but I think it goes deeper than that. Now, I can't necessarily know, but it seems almost like the writer had some kind of specific goal, but gave up halfway in favor of an obnoxious, open, and unfulfilling route. I have no particular quarrel with this movie, but I'm sure as heck not delighted with it. Moving on.

6 out of 10

Friday, July 17, 2009

Movie Journal: High School Musical 3

“Plot Synopsis: As seniors in high school, Troy and Gabriella struggle with the idea of being separated from one another as college approaches. Along with the rest of the Wildcats, they stage a spring musical to address their experiences, hopes and fears about their future.”

I have something of a confession to make as a reviewer: I didn’t actually watch the whole film; even though I had very much resolved to do so ahead of time. It's just that when it came down to it, I really just couldn’t make it all the way through; it was too painful. And there’s a reason for that. If you wanna know a good part of why, here it is: the first act of High School Musical 3(the part that I watched) shuns every cherished principle known to man in terms of storytelling, and I mean that in the worst possible way.

No, really. It doesn’t even bother to settle for cliches. The very first scene (the basketball game) just sort of plops you down in the middle of a “dramatic” situation and gets characters singing. In fact, this first scene has every characteristic of an event in a story’s third act. The only difference is that in this case there is no buildup, leaving viewers in a state of an utter lack of emotional engagement, but for the upbeat music pounding in the background the whole time. Yippee.

My intentions of seeing the film from start to finish were further dissuaded by a complete and utter lack of antagonism. Everything was just so…happy. For the whole first act(and for all I know throughout the entire movie), nobody was at odds with one another, and no single person was frustrated or hurt. Also, there were no signs of impending doom or any such circumstances. In other words, there was little or no conflict. Who wants to watch a movie in which conflict, the very essence of drama, is completely foregone?

The result is a story that isn't truly a story, just a mish-mash of cliched characters moving from one predictable sequence of events to the next, none of which have any capacity to engross the viewer on the same levels that almost all other films easily can.

It may have only been the first twenty minutes, but if the writer that wrote the first act of the story – in which even the most basic and self-explanatory principles are in no way taken into account – also wrote the rest, I don’t really think I’m interested.

The very fact the people actually get paid to write this mediocre dung is sickening to me, much less that people actually pay money to go and see it.

4 out of 10

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Movie Journal: The Transporter

Imagine this: an ex-military man makes his living by providing the service of discrete, undercover transportation. For the right amount of money, he'll transport anything to wherever you need it, no questions asked. Things run smoothly until one day, when he notices his cargo wriggling around in the back. He opens up the bag to discover a bound and gagged woman who is struggling to get free.

An intriguing idea, isn't it? I'll never tell what happens next; I've revealed far too much of the plot already. But just know that if the structural genius of the first and second acts doesn't win you over, the incredible, nonstop action that takes place throughout the third will. It's not a perfect movie, but at the same time you can't really go wrong with it.

8 out of 10

Monday, July 6, 2009

Movie Journal: Desperado

Desperado as a sequel, is both very satisfying and very disappointing. How can this be, you ask? It's simple, really.

It's satisfying because, whether you've seen the original El Mariachi or otherwise, it's easy to be impressed by Antonio's Banderas' grand and believable performance. He's everything you'd imagine the character Mariachi would become after years out on the run and in search of revenge. In fact, every member of the cast is well chosen and contributes to the story's fun and charming feel.

It's also satisfying due to it's cool, slick, action. The opening gunfight is quite honestly one of my more favorite scenes in film history in terms of style. As Banderas comes in through that door, long hair shadowing his face and a large guitar case in his hand, you know something extremely awesome is about to take place.

Unfortunately, the film is also very disappointing, largely due to it's undeniably convoluted plot.

The ending to El Mariachi positively screams, "SEQUEL!", which is a shame because it will never get one. Instead of picking up where the last movie leaves off, Desperado flashes forwards years and years into the future, where any interesting backstory we so much wanted to see about the events following El Mariachi are eluded to briefly but never shared. This defeats the whole point of what fans wanted a sequel for in the first place. In fact, what we have instead is a very generic revenge story that is not only cliched, but makes absolutely no sense, and because it makes no sense it's really hard to become engaged on an emotional level.

Still, don't let a few shortcomings deter you from what is one of the coolest movies around. It could have been a lot cooler, but what's done is done, so enjoy what you've got.

7 out of 10

Friday, July 3, 2009

Movie Journal: Fireproof

Fireproof is one of the very few romantic comedies out there with a plot that, instead of focusing on a particular couple and the circumstances of their coming together, instead revolves around a young and failing marriage, and the struggle of the two members of said marriage(and no, Fool's Gold most certainly does NOT count). The husband, Caleb, as strong and courageous a fireman he is, has steadily lost almost all interest in his wife, Catherine. And trust me when I say that it's worse than you think. The conflict between them builds to a vocal explosion on Caleb's part, leaving Catherine to draw away, her hope all but gone. It's at this point that she seeks out a lawyer for divorce, but not before Caleb's father and friends light a desire inside him to win her back.

Let me pause for a moment here and just say that I really don't care what some people think about this low-budget film's average acting, partly because each actor did an absolutely unbelievable job considering that they were working for free, but also because, quite frankly, the writing, the part that really counts, is so often nothing less than sheer brilliance. Caleb, a Captain of his own fire station, is no stranger to challenge and competition, which is why it's so darn intriguing to watch him try and pursue his wife. Moments such as when he throws his computer out back and begins smashing it with a baseball in order to avoid his temptation of of pornography are not only cute and funny, but also impressively powerful.

Also, in contrast to other such films, the Christian themes ACTUALLY suit the storyline, and bring depth and meaning to the plot in ways I had not previously been able to fathom.

Sherwood Pictures has completely outdone themselves. In fact, if there's a movie to lead to the way for Christianity in the film industry, it's this one. Good Christian movies CAN be done, and this low-budget masterpiece is a true testament to that.

And no, when I compliment the quality of this movie, I'm not just talking about the realm of budget films. This movie is much better than most romantic comedies I've seen this year, and far more enjoyable than Outlander(which is interesting, considering that Fireproof had approximately 1/97th of Outlander's budget).

8 out of 10